200 gather for interfaith worship service in Western Mass
July 20, 2015
Is there a right way to tie your shoes?
That’s the question Rabbi Mark Shapiro of Temple Sinai in Springfield, MA, asked those who gathered for the annual joint worship service held by East Longmeadow United Methodist Church, the UCC Congregational Church and St. Mark's Episcopal Church; two sisters from St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church attended in support.
The service was held at 10 a.m. on Sunday, July 12, 2015, at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in East Longmeadow with some 200 people from five congregations in attendance.
Rabbi Shapiro began by citing a passage in the Talmud that speaks to the issue of the right way to put on shoes. The point, he said, is that everything – even the small moments – are important; nothing – including how we put on our shoes – is trivial.
“Well, in a world filled with turmoil and injustice, an ecumenical service in a small town in Western Massachusetts at which three congregations came together in worship with a rabbi preaching may seem like a small moment on a summer Sunday, but it has consequences for how we interact with others of various denominations and faiths,” said Rev. Kelly Turney, pastor at East Longmeadow. “It is significant for how we conduct ourselves at a time when there is so much religious hatred and fear of difference.
“As clergy in the community, we have worked together over the years in addressing gun violence, opposing casino gambling, addressing racism and discrimination but this annual joint service has become a lovely, small moment for our congregations to come together in solidarity to show that while our differences matter, so does our unity.”
A softball game was held at noon following the service. Rev. Turney reports that “ELUMC dominated until the last half-inning when it lost the coveted John Wesley trophy that has been gracing our halls for 15 years.”